It's been a couple of weeks now since we were in Louisville, Kentucky for the North American International Livestock Expo.
This show is the start of our show season and then we come home long enough to throw in some laundry, head to the grocery store to buy all the food for Thanksgiving, then re-pack our suitcases to head to our cabin to celebrate Thanksgiving with our families.
I normally try to grab a few minutes in the gap between trips or while the Thanksgiving feast is digesting, to get my show reports done and you all updated on the events of the week. At the last minute, I decided not to pack my laptop this year and to fully enjoy the time with my family.
I'm feeling a little guilty at the backlog of paper work, but it was worth it.
Louisville felt different for me this year. I'm not really sure why, but probably because the past year has almost broken me. I have cried buckets...just ask my family.
A few weeks ago, one of the biggest stressors resolved itself and I have finally been able to take a deep breath, sleep through the night (except for when I wake up thinking about the show) and realizing that things are good again.
My emotions are still raw, but being on the other side of something bad has helped me to appreciate the little things that feel so good.
I was super stressed heading to Louisville because many of the behind the scenes things were different this year. I am very type A when it comes to shows and I work really hard to pre-plan, make sure everything is perfect and have contingency plans for just about everything.
But, I just had to go with the flow and hope everything worked out.
When we arrived on Monday afternoon, Daniel and I made a B-line for the show office...only to find out that my worst nightmares were coming true. All those things that I didn't have control of that I thought might not work...weren't going to work.
So I jumped in the truck, pulled out my laptop and frantically started creating a show program. You might not understand my panic, but I normally spend two weeks at home getting everything right on the program. There are lots of tiny details that need to be checked and re-checked before the show.
I had one day....and then I realized that I had left my mouse at home. If you know me at all...I can't do anything on a computer without my mouse.
So an emergency trip to Walmart was the first order of business.
I kept getting more and more panicked because it was taking them FOREVER to unload the trailer, load the truck, unload the truck, reload the trailer, move the cows, set up the stalls...and all the stuff they thought had to get done before we went to Walmart and they got me back to the peace and quiet of the house so I could work.
But I got it done, and by Tuesday evening I was feeling pretty good about things. Thankfully, everything went pretty smoothly throughout the week, with only a couple of hiccups that we were eventually able to resolve.
The other thing that was different this year, is we took a risk and rented and Airbnb. We are pretty picky and loyal when it comes to hotel rooms, but especially because after a long and dirty day in the barn, we don't want to have to wonder if the hotel is nice and clean. This was our first experience with Airbnb and we are hooked. I would tell you the exact house, but we are definitely staying there again next year, so I can't give away our little secret.
However, if you are staying in the Louisville area sometime other than for NAILE, I will be happy to make a recommendation for you.
Isaac wasn't going to be able to make the trip with us this year because of his college classes. I was trying not to be sad about it because I know this is a part of him growing up. We had talked about it and he decided that school was more important.
It was certainly an adjustment to not have Isaac with us in the truck and there to help load and unload, but we are working through it.
As we got closer to the show, Isaac was starting to feel like he was missing out...so, he made the decision to drive down and join us for the end of the week.
This pictures just makes my heart happy. We are learning to let go, but come up with options and fight to be together when it means the most.
Our fitter has decided that preparing for a wedding is more important than coming to shows with us.
We are not O.K. with him growing up and moving on...but I don't think we have a say in this one.
That means that we really need Walker to up his fitting skills so that he can do the bulk of the show day fitting for us. Daniel did a really good job of not grabbing the clippers and talking him through the finer details.
We would have figured things out without Isaac, but we are so glad he was there.
Walker was even relieved to have his brother along to help get cows ready and to the show ring on time.
We just aren't 4 Wiley Farm without #4.
The open show was on Wednesday and Colt won his division.
Colt is still really young, but this is Walker's first calf, so he is more than excited to see Colt's success in the show ring.
Autumn placed first in her class in the open show and 2nd in her class in the junior show.
Lucy placed 3rd in her class in the open show and 1st in her class in the junior show.
Kennedy place 3rd in her class in both the open show and the junior show.
Isaac won Reserve in Senior Showmanhip.
Yep...at Junior Nationals Walker beat Isaac and at NAILE Isaac beat Walker.
Don't think for one minute that these two are not ultra competitive.
The highlight of the week for us was definitely the junior show on Thursday.
For the first time ever, Miniature Herefords were in Freedom Hall.
Freedom Hall is the iconic show ring of the North American International Livestock Expo. There is nothing like the feeling of walking down that ramp and emerging into the arena to look up into the stands and hear the live organ music playing.
This has always been a dream of Daniel's, and he has worked really hard to increase our breed's presence at the show and made a nuisance of himself with the NAILE staff trying to find room in the schedule for us to show in Freedom Hall.
The first year we attended Louisville, we were in seventh heaven just to be at the show. We didn't know anything about the venue, nor did we even know that Freedom Hall existed. We showed in Broadbent Arena, which is a very nice show ring, and it was very close to our stalling arena.
We had no complaints.
That is until someone made the point of mentioning three times during that show to not be ashamed that we were showing in Broadbent Arena instead of Freedom Hall, and that someday we would make it there. Well...we didn't know that we should have been disappointed.
But, it lit a fire in Daniel.
He was determined that some day Miniature Herefords would show in Freedom Hall.
It has taken a long time, but the Miniature Herefords have arrived.
It is a testament to the quality and growth of the breed.
But it isn't just about proving a point.
This is a special opportunity for our youth. A show and an arena that they will always remember. The green shavings are iconic to NAILE, but Freedom Hall is just as big a part of the experience...and the 2021 NAILE junior exhibitors got to be a part of history.
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Hello! I am Heather... the city girl turned mom to manure loving country boys. My husband and I both grew up in the city, but spent weekends visiting grandparents in the country. We are first generation farmers who learn best by almost always doing things the hard way. I hope you enjoy following along with our adventures down on the farm.